Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano)

This idea has its origins many years back. I suppose that you unconsciously tend to make the films that you would like to watch and that you haven’t seen yet. In 2007, when I was living in Valledupar and listening to people’s stories, I got the idea to produce a gangster movie. I had already worked on one before, and in the year 2000, when we were in Medellín shooting Sumas y restas by Víctor Gaviria, a director I admired then and still admire now, I heard many stories about drug trafficking in the 1980s from those who lived through it. Also, I have to say, there was a certain disappointment surrounding the subject. There was a certain cliché in the air about how uncomfortable it was for films to address these issues and there’s even a readymade phrase that gets tossed around, despite the fact that nothing could be further from the truth: “We’re tired of every Colombian movie being about drug traffickers.” What I felt was that we had yet to truly connect with the subject matter, create empathy with these characters and their stories, and that when we did, we would tell a great story, like The Godfather. Then we wouldn’t need to keep trying and could simply enjoy the genre, just as the world has enjoyed gangster movies for decades without moral qualms.

The history of the bonanza marimbera is far removed from the usual image of drug traffickers and more closely resembles what we have seen at the movies: it is the story of a tribal war, conducted under a strict code of honor, that devastated many families of the Colombian coast, encompassing El Molino, Distracción, Dibulla, Valledupar and Santa Marta. This story evoked the world of the Sicilian mafia, as explored in classic Hollywood movies.

This is how it all begin: with the desires of a producer. After several years, Ciro came on board as director and the writing process began. We knew the danger of telling a story in a genre that’s been so thoroughly explored, and very early on we realized that the film would be different if we told it from the women’s perspective and with the tone of Wayuu society.

-Cristina Gallego

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